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How Hard is it to Get Social Security Disability Benefits in Arkansas?


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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to disabled individuals under the age of 65 who have earned a certain number of “work credits” by participating in the workforce. SSDI provides eligible claimants with monthly benefits that the recipient can use to help cover life expenses such as groceries, utilities, and transportation. Unfortunately, the process of qualifying for SSDI can be arduous, and many claims will initially be denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, with persistence, proper documentation, and aggressive legal assistance from an experienced Fayetteville AR disability lawyer, your likelihood of being approved for SSDI in Arkansas will increase significantly.

Who Qualifies for SSDI Benefits in Arkansas?

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In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Arkansas, the applicant or claimant will need to meet a few basic criteria established by the SSA:

  1. You must have earned a sufficient number of work credits by working in occupations that are covered by Social Security. The number of work credits you need is determined by how old you were when you became disabled. With some exceptions for young people, the SSA typically requires at least 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been earned during the 10-year period preceding your disability.
  2. You must be considered “severely” disabled by the SSA. For many people, proving this fact is the most difficult part of the process. The SSA has very strict criteria, and will only categorize you as “disabled” if all of the following points are true:
    • You are unable to perform the work you were performing before you became disabled.
    • You are also unable to perform other types of work due to the nature of your disability.
    • The disability is long-term, meaning it is expected to either (1) last for a duration of at least one year, or (2) result in death.

Social Security Disability Denial Rates at Each Stage of the Application Process

The process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits involves several stages, depending on whether and how often your claim is denied. Depending on how many times you need to appeal (challenge the denial), the Arkansas SSDI application process may involve the following steps:

  1. Initial Application
  2. Request for Reconsideration
  3. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing
  4. Appeals Council Review
  5. Federal Court

Each stage has a different denial rate, meaning you are more likely to be approved at certain stages than others. Speaking generally, claims are likely to be initially rejected, and even more likely to be denied at the second (Reconsideration) stage. However, while the first two stages of the process have poor approval rates, many claims are approved at the third (ALJ Hearing) stage or thereafter. Simply take a look at the following SSDI denial rate statistics supplied by the SSA, which are based on national data from 2010:

  • Stage 1 – Initial Application Level
    • Total Claims – 1,957,275
    • Total Allowances – 710,732
    • Approval Rate – 36.3%
    • Denial Rate – 63.7%

As you can see from these statistics, slightly over one third of all SSDI claims are approved at the outset of the process with no further action necessary. However, that still leaves about two in three claimants who will need to take their claim to the next level: Reconsideration.

  • Stage 2 – Reconsideration Level
    • Total Claims – 614,683
    • Total Allowances – 49,971
    • Approval Rate – 8.1%
    • Denial Rate – 91.9%

As the figures show, it is even more difficult to get a claim approved at the Reconsideration level, with only about one in ten claims approved at this phase of the process. Fortunately, many claimants will find that Reconsideration is the toughest stage of the process. After Reconsideration, approval rates tend to improve significantly, as the following statistics indicate:

  • Stage 3 (and Above) – ALJ Hearing Level (and Above)
    • Total Claims – 111,650
    • Total Allowances – 84,989
    • Approval Rate – 76.1%
    • Denial Rate – 23.9%

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Nationwide, as many as approximately three quarters of claims are approved at the ALJ Hearing or later steps of the process, an encouraging increase from the low rates observed at Reconsideration and initial application.
The foregoing figures are based on national data. In Arkansas (and indeed every state), rates are slightly different. While estimates vary, the SSDI approval and denial rates in Arkansas are approximately:

  • Initial Application
    • Approval Rate – 30.3%
    • Denial Rate – 69.7%
  • Request for Reconsideration
    • Approval Rate – 8.7%
    • Denial Rate – 91.3%
  • ALJ Hearing
    • Approval Rate – 49.6%
    • Denial Rate – 50.4%

Our Fayetteville SSDI Lawyers Can Help You File for Disability Benefits in Arkansas

If you are unable to work due to a severe, long-term disability, you may be entitled to monthly benefits from the Social Security Administration. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law has nearly 20 years of experience helping disabled Arkansas residents qualify for the SSDI benefits they deserve. Whether you need help filing a claim for the first time, or your claim has already been denied and you need assistance with the appeals process, you can rely on Ken Kieklak for compassionate guidance and support.

To talk about your Arkansas SSDI claim in a free and confidential legal consultation with a Fort Smith SSDI lawyer, a Rogers SSDI attorney, or a Springdale SSDI lawyer, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law at (479) 316-0438 today. Our law firm also serves Bentonville, Bella Vista, and beyond.

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